Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

First Nations Receives Grant to Invest in Native Community Programs to Strengthen Well-being of Native Youth

Funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will go to supporting Native Youth education, mental health, and identity strengthening

 

December 17, 2020



LONGMONT, Colorado (December 16, 2020) – The board and staff of First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) are honored to announce the receipt of a $1.6 million grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). The funding will make it possible for First Nations to provide financial support, technical assistance, and training to multiple Native youth-serving organizations for programs and services that strengthen education, mental health, and Native identity through culture, connectedness, and language.

The grant award is part of CZI’s $7 million commitment to help advance racial equity as well as Tribal identity and support student mental wellness in communities most impacted by COVID-19. First Nations is one of five organizations to receive the CZI funding.

“We are proud to support these organizations and their work with local communities to protect youth well-being through programs that advance racial equity and strengthen Tribal identity,” said Sandra Liu Huang, head of education at CZI. “These communities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and long-standing inequities. And as they rebuild, it is especially critical that communities continue to prioritize mental wellness for students to ensure they reach their full potential.”

Michael Roberts, President and CEO of First Nations, expressed gratitude for the grant, which he said will directly support efforts to cultivate Native language, strengthen Native cultures and values, bring together Native youth and elders, and increase youth leadership. “All these elements are the heart and soul of Native communities,” he said. “Preservation of these important Indigenous lifeways means that a new generation of Tribal members will build a positive cultural identity, fortifying them with resiliency in the face of life’s struggles.”

With the funding, First Nations will provide general support grants, capacity-building technical assistance, and training to community partners working at the intersection of Native language perpetuation and cultural knowledge development and target programs that are positively developing the identity and esteem of Native youth. The funding will help create opportunities for cultural connectedness to counter isolation and mental health issues, which have become more prevalent in light of COVID-19.

Roberts explained that the CZI grant is further important in light of the significant underinvestment in Native communities by philanthropy, citing that only .04% of total foundation resources is directed to Native communities and causes. “The majority of Native youth programs struggle to access funds and are under the radar of mainstream donors. However, they are the unsung heroes that are doing the critically important work,” said Roberts.

 

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